Wednesday, 30 August 2017

August

I'm sure you will understand the reason for my lack of posts this month. I have been the sole source of entertainment for a (very) lively four year old which, although tough going at times, has also been a enormous amount of fun.
This month has flown by.
When I initially booked our holiday for the end of July I naively thought the rest of the Summer would stretch on forever and yet now, here we are, almost at its end.
I've really enjoyed the time off and it seems that, once again, we've spent most of the month outdoors. I've made up endless picnics, cleaned muddy boots and swept up A LOT of sand.
We've visited the picturesque towns of Kirkby Lonsdale, Settle and Skipton, walked up Wansfell Pike, overlooking Ambleside and, of course, spent a lot of time at the beach.
In the middle of the month I spent my birthday by the lake at Grasmere. It was a gloriously sunny day and Lily and I had a wonderful time paddling at the soft shingle shoreline. Her confidence has grown in leaps and bounds over the Summer, mastering the zip wire and fireman's pole at the local park and learning to read. We have spent so much time together it is going to be such a wrench when she starts at school in a couple of weeks time.
We've collected plenty of blackberries. Or rather I collected blackberries while Lily stood and kept me company. They are in abundance around here this year and I have a freezer drawer full of them just waiting to be made into jam and possibly some blackberry vodka.
Over the last week the weather has hinted at Autumn, but with the temperatures set to rise again towards the weekend I will be making the most of Summer while it lasts.
J. X

Thursday, 10 August 2017

A Week on Arran

Looking back now I can't remember what made us decide on Arran for our Summer holiday this year, but I'm so glad we did.
Far away from the hustle and bustle, some breathtaking scenery, quaint little villages, quiet sandy beaches and an abundance of wildlife. Arran is a beautiful island and offered everything we could have wanted from our holiday and is so easily accessible we were left wondering why we had never visited before.
Our week began with a short ferry crossing from Ardrossan to Brodick. This takes just under an hour, but plenty of time to relax, enjoy a coffee and catch our first glimpse of the island as we approached.
Our cottage was lovely with views to the sea and Kintyre peninsula and we had been left a welcome gift of fresh bread from the village bakery, locally produced cheese and chutney and some free range eggs from a nearby farm. Delicious, and they didn't last long!
On our first evening we took a short drive up the coast and were thrilled with our first sighting of a seal. We stood watching it for a while in the warm evening air. It was so quiet, there was no breeze and even the sea was incredibly still.
Most mornings after enjoying a leisurely breakfast we went out walking before it became too hot. There were so many walks to choose from on the island. Over the week we walked some of the coastal way, through woodland and up onto hillsides. We enjoyed a visit to the King's caves, the rugged and imposing cliffs at Drumadoon point and to the stunning Glenashdale Falls and Giant's Graves at Whiting Bay, taking in some amazing views over towards Holy Isle. Lunch was always a picnic usually followed by time on the beach.
Our favourite was the beach at Kildonan on the South of the island. Kildonan is a small village which overlooks the tiny island of Pladda with Ailsa Craig beyond. The golden sandy beach stretches around the bay to rocky shores which attract seals and otters. Lily was so happy to run in and out of the crystal clear sea, clamber on rocks - 'I'm on my own island!' and make sandcastles. Simple childhood pleasures which, I think, make a holiday.
We indulged in just a tiny bit of retail therapy when we visited Arran: Sense of Scotland (formerly Arran Aromatics) where I purchased some gorgeous scented candles and soap and, of course, a trip to the Distillery at Lochranza resulted in a bottle of Whisky.
In the evenings we would return to the cottage, enjoy a drink in the garden followed by a simple but tasty dinner, talk, read, and later spend some time in the Jacuzzi, gazing out to sea enjoying the stunning sunsets with an accompanying glass of wine.
The pace of life on the island was wonderfully slow and easy. Nowhere was busy or crowded. There was space, peace (when Lily was quiet), so much sky, and I can honestly say it had been a while since I had felt so relaxed.
Arran, we will return.
J. X